The American Cancer Society marks the Great American Smokeout each year on the third Thursday of November and encourages smokers to use the date to make a plan to quit, or to plan in advance and quit smoking that day. Quitting smoking lowers the risk of diabetes, lets blood vessels work better, and helps the heart and lungs. Studies show that quitting while you are younger will reduce your health risks more, but quitting at any age can give back years of life that would be lost by continuing to smoke.
Because of the unpleasant withdrawal symptoms associated with quitting smoking, only about 4-7 percent of people are able to quit smoking on any given attempt without medicines or other help. Studies in medical journals have reported that about 25 percent of smokers who use medicines can stay smoke-free for over 6 months. Counseling and other types of emotional support can boost success rates higher than medicines alone. Behavioral and supportive therapies may increase success rates even further and may even help the person stay smoke-free.
While there is no one right way to quit, there are some requirements for quitting with success. These four factors are crucial:
• Making a decision to quit
• Picking a Quit Day and making a plan
• Dealing with withdrawal
• Staying tobacco-free
If a smoker is thinking about quitting, setting a Quit Day and deciding on a plan will help the smoker move closer to their goal of being smoke-free. Some smokers choose a date with special meaning, like a birthday or anniversary, or the date of the Great American Smokeout. If you are planning to use a prescription drug to help quit, you will need to talk to your doctor about getting it in time of your Quit Day. Also keep in mind some prescriptions require you start taking them a full two weeks prior to your Quit Day.
Many experts agree that quitting smoking is a lot like losing weight: it takes a strong commitment over a long time. Successful quitting is a matter of planning and commitment, not luck. For more information about the Great American Smokeout and suggestions about quitting smoking, please visit www.cancer.org .